FORT PIERCE, Fla. — As the situation in Haiti continues to deteriorate, a Treasure Coast nonprofit is committed to help those in need, despite the danger.
Missionary Flights International in Fort Pierce has been flying supplies like food, water, medical equipment and other basic necessities to Haiti for years to bring support to nonprofits and churches there.
Yet with growing unrest, the nonprofit's president, Joe Karabensch, said many of those nonprofits are forced to leave due to the danger.
"Things are expanding, the gangs are getting further out," Karabensch said. "One of the Haitian pastors, he was actually kidnapped a few months ago and beaten terribly. He was finally released, but it's desperate there."
Sunday, the Associated Press reported that gun-toting gangsters have been robbing, raping and murdering the innocent, while weak or corrupt police and officials have done little, or worse.
At least 42 dead, thousands displaced due to heavy floods in Haiti
Now, vigilantes are taking action, stoning and often chopping the limbs of suspected gangsters, beheading them and setting them afire, sometimes while they are still alive.
So far, the Associated Press said vigilantes have killed at least 164 people.
In addition, on Tuesday, a 4.9 magnitude earthquake struck the south side of the country, killing four and injuring dozens of others.
"There are a lot of people that are not going on the trips, because of the danger, so we do see a lot less people going, but the cargo is still going in," said Karabensch. "It's important for us to continue to go, because it gives those people in Haiti who are having a tough time that we are standing behind them. Our motto is "Standing in the Gap," and we want to be there in the tough times."
That's why Karabensch said Missionary Flights International will continue the mission as safely as possible. He said the people of Haiti need them now more than ever.
"In Haiti, it's the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and they need our help," Karabensch said. "They need support and they need people to keep coming. They need, really, something to fix what’s going on down there. They need stability in their government, and we’re here to help until that can happen."
Karabensch also said part of the mission is to evacuate families in danger. Currently, the nonprofit is working to evacuate a family with nine children who don't feel safe.
Yet the 501c3 runs on donations and grant money, meaning without the support from the community, they're limited in how they can help.
Karabensch said the community can support him by praying for safety and wisdom, and by donating supplies, funding and/or efforts.